Why must women always be the ones to pay

I have said in the past that I am not one of the those that supports pulling the US out of Iraq without a thought or a backward glance. I didn’t want us to invade Iraq – we didn’t have the right to abrogate the UN’s authority in this matter. However, once the deed was done, we have an obligation to ensure that Iraq not descend into civil war, or become yet another fundamentally religious regime.

With the politically strategic pullout of the US scheduled for July 1 of this year, what will happen is our people, for the most part, will be home by election time in November, but not so soon that the country has a chance to erupt into civil war. And I don’t think there’s little doubt of this happening. You can’t remove an oppressive regime over peoples of strongly differing opinions and beliefs and expect to have a smooth running, fair democracy in barely a year’s time.

Unfortunately, the group of people most likely to pay the price for our short sighted thinking will be the women of Iraq.

Both Baghdad Burning and wKen reference articles about a new vote by the US-backed Iraq Council to return the country to sharia, a dogmatic adherance to variously interpreted Islamic law that is basically going to strip the rights of women in the one Islamic country that had progressed more than any other when it comes to rights for women. Baghdad Burning wrote:

I usually ignore the emails I receive telling me to ‘embrace’ my new-found freedom and be happy that the circumstances of all Iraqi women are going to ‘improve drastically’ from what we had before. They quote Bush (which in itself speaks volumes) saying things about how repressed the Iraqi women were and how, now, they are going to be able to live free lives.

The people who write those emails often lob Iraq together with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan and I shake my head at their ignorance but think to myself, “Well, they really need to believe their country has the best of intentions- I won’t burst their bubble.” But I’m telling everyone now- if I get any more emails about how free and liberated the Iraqi women are *now* thanks to America, they can expect a very nasty answer.

Supposedly the current adminstrator, Paul Bremer, will most likely overturn this law, but what happens in June when we start pulling out? Does anyone believe that there will be a significant change in attitude among the dominant Shiite population in that time?

Think about it – this is no different than telling women in this country that they can’t work in any position that they want; that they must be accompanied by male members of their household if they want to drive somewhere; that they have to be covered head to toe in heavy draperies regardless of the weather; that they can’t go to school, vote, breath without the expressed permission of a male dominated religious majority. Doing this to the women in this country is no different that what we’ll be doing to the women in Iraq.

The current administration knows this, but has shown little evidence of caring about this. However, lest you think that the liberals among you are going to get off without a whipping, I don’t see that there’s much interest among all of you in what happens to the women of Iraq with your silly little “Pull out now” stickers and signs.

In fact, all you’re doing is giving ammunition to the Bush administration, “You asked us to pull out, we did what you asked.”

Because of the actions of our country, we are condemning half the populace of Iraq to dark servitude without any rights, and little hope. And we – both liberals and conservatives – have done this thing.

(And before you ask, what do I suggest? Bringing in the UN to work with the Iraqi people long-term to ensure that the rights of minorities and women are upheld – paid for by the US, supported by both our troops and money. However, this time with a UN leadership, in support of a basic set of human rights that must be implemented by all countries, regardless of dominant religion. Including the US.)

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